Sunday, June 10, 2012

Forza On The Horizon...(Open-World Racing!!)

I'll just cut to the chase now--my E3 "pick" for favorite game goes to Lego City.  I like it--it's colorful, happy fun and if it has vehicles in it, it'll be awesome.  Everything else was uber-violent or made by Nintendo.

There's one problem's only for Wii U.  Rofl.  What am I going to play now...oh God no don't say it--

So here's Forza Horizon again.  I think my preliminary analysis was a bit harsh, but what else can you say?  That's how I genuinely felt upon seeing the news.  Forza has gone from a "serious" sim racer to a exaggerated speed festival with a bunch of things that are ripped right out the NFS formula.

Here's a Jalopnik article I will be referring to.  FYI, Jalopnik does a lot of promos with Forza--some of the DLC has the word "Jalopnik" written right on it.  So a Jalopnik blogger talks to some game boss producer or something at the Forza booth and we learn some things:

Microsoft is calling Forza Horizon an "action racing" game, and that underscores the big conceptual difference between it and Forza 4. Where Forza 4 is more of a racing simulator, this is more of an arcade-ish game.

I just think it's absurd that you need to tack on the phrase "action" to a racing game.  Isn't the racing itself action on its own?  Will this game add other action stuff like being able to get out of the car and run from cops?  Oh wait, someone did that already and it sucked.

He's the one who told me you'll be able to race a '70s Boss Mustang against a WWII P51 Mustang fighter. Sold.

Um, how can a car compete with a plane anyway?  Maybe in a drag race or a Amazing Race contest (get to the bus station locker first and win a million dollars), sure, but otherwise, the plane can just fly above the track and the car can't.  So that's fair.  You can't even pilot the plane (I assume) so what's the point?  This smells like one of those selling point story mode things that devs drop in the game to hype up interest.  Take NFS: the Run: Jack flips the police car over on the train tracks and busts out just in time.  And Jack dodges falling boulders along the mountainside.  They are story/campaign-related things that mean jack (pun intended) once you've played though it a few times.  It's cinematics & production value, that's all.  Very little to do with actual gameplay.

The lighting is dramatically more varied, with a low sun in the sky giving everything a striking golden cast, and your cars' lights actually work.

I must say that I applaud the Forza team for bringing out a lot of contrast in the environment.  That is a GOOD thing.  However, the lighting has me worried quite a bit.  Just looking at the screens (including the first one above), it looks a lot like they tweaked the hue values somewhat.  Games tend to do that nowadays, particularly the orange/teal hue in every damn action movie that's supposed to add "zing" to their visuals.  While Forza Horizon doesn't go to that extreme, it seems like they baked in too much yellow/orange lighting...enough to irk me just enough to bring this point up.

At least Forza Horizon doesn't exhibit the same dreary visuals you see from games like GRID or DiRT.  That would be terrible.

From what I saw, at times Forza Horizon seems to exhibit this phony lighting that is more obnoxious than anything.  I'll have to sit through even more gameplay first.  Wait until the game's release.  Whatever, we'll see how the game's final product looks first.

BTW, I'm glad that this game will have night driving for the first time.  Took you guys five games to get around to it, huh?  In the meantime, Gran Turismo had night driving from the start (see Special Stage Route 5).  Forza sucks.

The physics are tweaked just a bit, with your car feeling a bit more lively than in Forza 4, a bit more inclined to drama.

I think this is a good thing.  If it captures the little details that make games like Daytona or Outrun so fun to drive (responsive handling, car trembles at high speed, etc.), then that might be a saving grace.  But they said the same stuff in just about every other damn arcade racer (NFS comes to mind, again...) so I'm not holding my breath.

There's many more objects in the environment, guard rails and signs and fences, and they can all be effectively destroyed by some sloppy driving. And that's fun.

Oh noes guys, they're encouraging reckless driving!!  Weave in out and out of traffic.  Run from cops (think they would put up with these shenanigans?)  The true racing pastime.

The basic premise is you're attending a festival, and your goal is to become King of the festival by gathering fans. You do that by winning races, risky driving, stunts, special challenges and events.

Seriously, I hate this crap.  For some reason, a "festival" in the middle of Colorado reminds me of Woodstock with cars (or the original Motorstorm)--bunch of wannabe losers listening to bad dubstep, getting wasted on energy drinks and wrecking cars.  I think these things detract from the actual reason we play driving games which is TO RACE CARS.

Anyone played Need for Speed: ProStreet?  I did for the achievement points (beat every race) was average despite not having the open world exploration and police chases.  But the whole "race show" stuff was more of a hindrance than anything.  Plus, it has a "story mode"--your name is Ryan Cooper and you race to take down all the pro racers and become "King of the Racing Universe" presumably because your ride was stolen and/or someone pissed in your Corn Flakes.  But because you're stuck with that very name, half the race announcers affectionately call you by the nickname "Coop."  And trust me--I muted the announcer in no time.

Speaking of which, this open-world crap is a double-edged sword.  Some of my favorite games are the PS2 era Grand Theft Auto games.  I especially loved Vice City and San Andreas because they had a cool vibe, lots of cars, and a great soundtrack.

The Hotring of my favorite cars in GTA.  I had the cheat code to spawn one memorized in the past.

Now when you're cruisin' around city/wilderness, it's kind of fun.  But the actual bonafide racing in the game SUCKED.  GTA wasn't a game built for traditional racing.  The city wasn't specifically designed to carve out race tracks.  It's like some producers dropped a few nodes across the city and said "go drive through them in order, good luck."

Even other open-world racers like Need for Speed or Burnout just aren't that great for racing.  It's like they'll carve out a path through the city and place a bunch of glowing barriers to block off roads off the beaten path--you can't go through them but the traffic can.  And the city is laden with all sorts of scenery such that it obfuscates any sort of "racing line" whatsoever so you're acting in a reactionary fashion--see some arrows just forcibly turn in that direction.  It doesn't seem well-polished for a true racing experience.  Not to mention that little "shortcuts" like side roads & ramps also take away from the experience since it becomes more of a game of memorization than one of actual skill.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Speaking of which, there's always the Little Rascals...which demonstrates how stupid urban racing can be at times.  They take a "shortcut" off the beaten path which includes driving through a grocery store parking lot (and knocking pedestrians 10 feet into the air).  Whatever, this is stupid and I can't believe I'm posting it but I don't care:

I think the game that did city racing the best was Project Gotham Racing.  Technically, you can say so since since there are modes that remove the barriers and permit free-roam around the city.  As for the artificial race courses, they are designed in a matter that makes it clearly obvious which way to go...clear visuals and signs tell you exactly where to go.  This also applies to Sega racers like Daytona & Outrun 2...

If you see it, you can drive to it. Well, maybe not some of the mountaintops, but still. You can drive into the Rockies, then look down off the side of the mountain and see the festival below. The map is full and huge and there's many miles of road to discover.

 This is also interesting as well.  Again, the entire game takes place in Colorado.  While the game exhibits forests, canyons, and lakes across limitless draw distance, that's all you really see the whole game.  Even though the game is beautiful, I think driving around in the woods can get a tad bit old after a while.  But what do I know--I need to see the final map first.  Let's hope there is more scenery like that in OutRun 2 (the definitive standard for...well...pretty much everything.

Outrun 2 doesn't showcase the fanciest lighting or textures there is (the game is now 8 years old), but it's simple, colorful style makes for good, clean fun.

There's a LOT of cars. I can't give a number now, but it's huge selection. All road cars this time, no pure race cars like in Forza. They're an eclectic mix, cars you'd take to a festival.

Damn, no Formula 1 cars.  :(  You  think by now Forza would have 'em but it's too late for that.

...BTW, one more thing.  I was looking at the comments for this Jalopnik article and the racing diehards aren't very impressed either:

BtheD19, Formula J treble World Champion
"The basic premise is you're attending a festival, and your goal is to become King of the festival by gathering fans. You do that by winning races, risky driving, stunts, special challenges and events."

And this is why I hate arcade "racing" games. Pass the GT5, I've got lap times to set.

Rattleface Blouses @BtheD19, Formula J treble World Champion
Yup, that's where I lost almost any interest in this game. It's takes after Dirt 2's brotastic environments.

Glad to see there's others out there who are a bit uneasy with this new Forza as well but the knock on arcade racers is a bit uncalled for.  But the Sega Racing Nation still exists out there cause a couple of comments later, someone says this:

Arcade racing games, when done right, are freakin' amazing. Play any Sega racer and you'll see it. 

I love this guy.  No homo.  Though none of the sim racing aficianados have replied.  Who cares...reading the comments section of any major blog/news site is a good source of brain cancer.  Just don't do it.

...I really don't know what else to say about Forza Horizon.  It looks better than the incredibly generic Burnout--I mean Need for Speed: Most Wanted (the 2012 one).  Seriously, I don't feel like commenting on the new NFS since it looks like Burnout w/ Facebook functionality.  No use complaining anymore because A. we don't know what the final product will look like and B. it's also tailored for casuals so if you're outside the intended demographic then deal with it.  Dumb games are dumb--I'm outta here, dudes.


  1. Well said. It seems that nearly all of the major racing franchises are tending to cater to the "COD bros". I've never been a sim-fanatic, so it doesn't affect my gamimg much, but once the om-foot and QTE bits hit NFS, I heaved a mighty sigh and turned away.

    Also: I liked the "Lego GTA" demoes as well :)

  2. Everyone needs to sign this petition...

    Maybe Sega will finally listen.


  3. I agree with you too man about the bro racing games. And these petitions barely work...Shenmue's petition was massive but Sega didn't budge. Who knows, I'll sign it and 4 other people as of now.